MEDIA

Reporters Storm San Bernardino Shooters’ Home Like A Pack Of Vultures

A family member's personal information was broadcast live on national TV.

Multiple television networks, including MSNBC, CNN and CBS, aired footage Friday from inside the home of San Bernardino shooting suspects Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, with at least one network going so far as to show a driver's license and social security card that appeared to belong to Farook's mother.

The press entered the apartment in Redlands, California, with cameras rolling, not knowing what they were about to see.

On MSNBC, reporter Kerry Sanders showed the room of Farook and Malik's 6-month-old daughter, pointing out her crib and what appeared to be a prayer rug. He also dug through the items in the home, pointing out mundane household objects like a calendar, a recycling bin filled with shredded paper, a computer and a wrapper for a package of mixed nuts.

Footage also captured a bed covered with papers, including what appeared to be a driver's license, credit cards and copies of the Quran.

Some outlets reported that the landlord let the press into the apartment. But in an interview with CBS News, the landlord denied that he had opened the building to reporters, claiming he opened the door and the media "rushed" into the apartment.

While any reporter probably would have entered the apartment based on the understanding that the landlord had approved it and it was no longer an active crime scene, many on Twitter pointed out that airing personal information about the shooters' relatives puts those people at a serious risk. MSNBC aired an un-blurred driver's license under the name Rafia Farook, who is Farook's mother. The outlet also speculated that photos of a woman found in the apartment could be Malik, showing the photos on the live broadcast without verifying they were actually her. 

"MSNBC and other news organizations were invited into the home by the landlord after law enforcement officials had finished examining the site and returned control to the landlord," the outlet said in a statement. "Although MSNBC was not the first crew to enter the home, we did have the first live shots from inside. We regret that we briefly showed images of photographs and identification cards that should not have been aired without review."

The scene inside the apartment was also a frenzy, with outlets jockeying for shots and rummaging through the home. CNN's Victor Blackwell speculated live on air that it seemed like either the killers or Farook's mother had "left in a hurry" on Wednesday. 

CNN defended its decision to air footage from inside the apartment, saying that it made a "conscious" decision to not film any potentially sensitive material.

"CNN, like many other news organizations, was granted access to the home by the landlord," the outlet said in a statement. "We made a conscious editorial decision not to show close-up footage of any material that could be considered sensitive or identifiable, such as photos or ID cards."

The FBI confirmed Friday the bureau had completed its search of the home, so no evidence was put at risk by the reporters' walkthrough.

Gabriel Arana and Michael McLaughlin contributed reporting. 

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